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Retirements and Departures

While Lava Man is working toward a comeback, the equally hard-knocking Better Talk Now is finally heading for retirement. Better Talk Now was aiming for another G1 win in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic coming up this weekend, but he injured a suspensory ligament while training; he’ll be looking at a comfortable retirement instead of more racing. With Lava Man’s reservation at Old Friends canceled and Kona Gold’s stall at Kentucky Horse Park sadly vacated last week, there are plenty of appealing options for Better Talk Now’s future.

Also preparing for retirement is Champs Elysees; he has one more race left on his schedule, the Canadian International at Woodbine, before he joins big brother Dansili at stud in England. The new economic realities of the breeding game had kept the son of Hasili in training this year, rather than heading to an immediately lucrative stud career; Bill Finley hopes this also delays the flight to the breeding shed for horses including Summer Bird and Sea the Stars. (It must be particularly tricky for Summer Bird to find a stud ‘gig’ at the moment – who would want to stand him, despite his accomplishments so far this year, when his sire commands a mere $10,000 a pop? Hopefully, that fact alone should keep him in training next year).

There was some rather exciting racing this past weekend, both here and abroad; Indian Blessing held off Sara Louise in what has to be one of the most thrilling finishes the Gallant Bloom has ever seen. One hopes both will aim for the Filly & Mare Sprint, since they seem to be worthy adversaries. Meanwhile, at Ascot, Rip Van Winkle proved he is more than an afterthought to Sea the Stars with a determined win in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. This victory is setting him up for a run at the Breeders’ Cup Classic (following last year’s winning ‘European Milers Take 1-2 in the Classic’ formula) – it’s a shrewd move since it avoids Goldikova and allows him to keep his solid miler status intact.

Rip Van Winkle’s great rival, Sea the Stars, is still on target for the Arc on Sunday – it’s highly unlikely he would come to California after his Paris run, but it’s still not been entirely ruled out. We’ll look at the Arc in more detail later this week, but it’s hard not to chuckle a bit at the British outrage that some of the Arc undercard will not be broadcast on terrestrial television – imagine being able to see the Arc itself on even a normal cable channel in the US!

Tomorrow, I’ll be discussing the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Alex Brown’s radio show – tune in to hear our thoughts on Summer Bird, Quality Road and the other likely entrants!

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